Monday July 14 2014
Outcast Pelle to shine for Saints

Did Serie A overlook the talents of new Southampton striker Graziano Pelle? Luca Persico suggests as much.

Graziano Pelle’s move to the Premier League and Southampton brings to an end a remarkable two seasons with Feyenoord.

His return of 55 goals in 66 appearances for the Rotterdam-based club is the best figures that any Italian has produced abroad.

For a player whose best season in Italy yielded ten goals for Cesena in Serie B, it’s a notable and unexpected turnaround.

Pelle first took a chance with the Eredivisie as a 22 year-old. Frustrated at a lack of opportunities with Lecce and the prospect of a fourth loan spell away from the club, he chose to join AZ. 

The Apulia native was part of a side that won the 2008-09 Eredivisie title, but he managed just 16 goals in 90 appearances and was released in June 2011.

Parma picked him up soon after, but following a difficult six months back in Serie A, he ended the season on loan with Sampdoria.

Unwanted in Emilia Romagna, Pelle’s future was unclear, but he was presented with a surprising offer to return to Holland.

Ronald Koeman, his Coach at AZ for a brief spell in 2009, was now at Feyenoord and needed a striker. John Guidetti, who had scored 20 goals in 23 appearances the previous season was returning to owners Manchester City.

Koeman's choice of Pelle, a player who had been named one of the biggest Eredivisie flops of the last ten years by Voetbal International, left many baffled, but ultimately proved to be a masterstroke. 

Pelle arrived at Feyenoord with a renewed sense of purpose. He trained harder, was more disciplined off the pitch and ultimately rewarded on it. “I always remember what Arrigo Sacchi once said: ‘if you want to perform like a Ferrari at the weekend, you cannot train like a Fiat 500 during the week’. This has become my motto,” noted the striker.

His first season back in Holland yielded 27 goals in 29 matches and earned him a permanent transfer to De Kuip. In his second season, he got 23 goals to help De Stadionclub to a second place finish.

When Koeman left for Southampton in June, it was inevitable that his star striker would soon follow.

“Everything comes natural between him and me,” insisted Pelle. “I respect him as a person and he’s shown his quality. We had good and bad moments together, but when you are honest with each other - you can see that he is an honest person.”

One of those bad moments saw Pelle lose the captaincy for insulting a television interviewer, but it is clear Koeman can bring the best out of him, both as a player and a person.

The challenge now for the goalscorer is to prove that he can regularly find the back of the net in the Premier League. Free scorers such as Mateja Kezman and Afonso Alves have struggled to make the transition from the Eredivisie, but Pelle is aware of the task ahead of him and is embracing the challenge.

“I did well in Holland, but the Premier League is a step up. I have to show what I can do. It’s really important for me to work as hard as possible.

“I’m a typical English striker - tall and strong. Italy a few years ago was one of the strongest competitions, but it’s got down with many problems. If I was not in Italy I wanted to be in England and the Premier League.”

Pelle’s damning assessment of the current state of Italian football is relevant, but also to be expected from a player it struggled to find a home for. His belief that Sebastian Giovinco “would currently be playing for Barcelona or Arsenal” if he had been developed by Ajax highlights his frustration at a system that seems to under appreciate young talent.

Pelle may feel he is a victim of this, but his bold decision to move to Holland was eventually rewarded and he now has the chance to showcase his talents on the most watched stage in football. Should he succeed, then an Italy call up may not beyond this ‘English striker’.

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Have your say...
Maldini heir you talk a lot of sense. I cant believe we are going to let Scuffet leave to go to spain. He is the heir to Buffon long term. He is a keeper with amazing talent and should only get better as time goes on. Its the same old story, our young talents leave to go and play abroad. WAKE UP SERIE A.
on the 16th July, 2014 at 7:24pm
Can we all chip in and try and stop Scuffet going to Atletico?
on the 16th July, 2014 at 12:18pm
Emphasis should not be on instant success but planning for long term.

If the clubs make it to atleast UCL QF and SF, if not final, then only will they have players good enough for World Cup. A coach with winning mentality can only lead to titles. Conte would be great for Azzurri and I hope it happens, but I don't think he has indicated yet if he would.
on the 16th July, 2014 at 3:08am
Maldini's heir, you're right, that was not related to this blog, but to the article about Italy dropping to 14th rank.

About this blog, I do agree that young players need to be given more faith. It's not just for Italy, but all the clubs in Serie A and B. Giovinco could've developed more, although he can still prove himself.

Clubs need to show faith in 17-24 year olds and even if they make mistakes, it should be okay if they learn and improve, and in a few years, they can develop.
on the 16th July, 2014 at 3:03am
Conte's gone!!!!!!!!WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Next Italy manager? Please please please please please.......
on the 15th July, 2014 at 7:59pm
Maldini Heir,not completely true, look at the top clubs and their performances against the lower clubs. And don't counter that with saying look at the top clubs. Tevez/Higuain/Ibra/Cavani have all recently mentioned the difficulty with Serie A for a striker compared to La Liga/EPL/Ligue 1 where there is more space/less tactical/less technical ability(ex La Liga). I am not excusing many things in this league or Italy, but Pelle has proved himself and until he does, there is not much2talk about.
on the 15th July, 2014 at 5:49pm
Tell me something, "Ma chi e stu Pelle, bo!" Anyway I hope who ever he is that he does well in the PL.
on the 15th July, 2014 at 2:49pm
@ Gli Azz When Bergkamp came to Serie A we still had the best defences in the world. The defences in Serie A now are appalling. Therefore nowadays there's no reason why a player who scores in another top league should not be able score in Serie A.
on the 15th July, 2014 at 2:41pm
@ Azzurri supporter You're going to have to point out to me where in the article it mentions Balotelli. Can we all (including myself*) have a go at not mentioning Balotelli for a week. Come on. Today is Tuesday (Aussie Bob you're a day a head) but lets not mention him again until midnight (CET) next Tuesday. Is that a deal?

*This of course has to work both ways. If people start insulting any Milan or Azzurri player then I will defend them as I keep doing.
on the 15th July, 2014 at 2:39pm
Italian football needs a footballer to be at the helm of the Federation Rivera,Zoff,Cannavaro ecc).Then we need to have one ambition to put right the youth system as we do have the players.Clubs need to have the patience on the youngsters and believe me we will do even better than Germany who were not that great.Ghana nearly won,USA gave them a fright,Algeria unfortunately didn't have a striker and Argentina were better on the night.They had luck and were bold.Clubs please invest in Italians!
on the 15th July, 2014 at 1:20pm
no room for weakness in italian football;no not in italy we cant rate him so highly just because he shone for a club that no one knows in wat planet it exists
on the 15th July, 2014 at 10:33am
Watched him a few times last season. Not totally convinced about him. The dutch league is not the best defensively, and it mirrors more closely with EPL in pace. Bergkamp arrived after scoring over 100 goals for Ajax and struggled in Serie A in his time. Its true, manager/timing/characteristics maketh the moment, but give him a year and then you will see the reality. Perhaps there were other 'issues' with Pelle not mentioned in this article which made him weak (character personality)
on the 15th July, 2014 at 10:24am
Pelle was very poor in Italy but has been amazing since going to Holland. If he proves himself in the premier league and scores goals then at 29 years old he should strongly be considered to be called up for Italy and given a chance. I agree with Maldini s Heir the whole system in Italy is a joke. We are so backwards, cant see anything changing. Unlike the Germans we are all talk, scared to try and change things for the better.
on the 15th July, 2014 at 9:32am
Easier to sign scrub stranieri than give time to develop young home grown talent. Results driven and bad choices

No wonder Gli Azzurri flopped.
on the 15th July, 2014 at 1:52am
Another wasted talent thanks to the policy of buying substandard players from overseas at a discount. Serie A is fast becoming Premier League mk2, but without the success at club level.
on the 14th July, 2014 at 11:55pm
I like what he apparently said about Giovinco! Gio had such potential! He was not developed properly by Ranieri, Ferrara and the rest since! I see Insigne going the same way at Napoli. Let's hope Pelle comes good. Also, glad to hear Mastour played in the between ranks game at Milan?
on the 14th July, 2014 at 8:41pm
The way balotelli flopped and brought all attention to himself, he deserves criticism. Cassano and insigne didn't do better either. There was so much talk about how they will give their all for Italy and in the end it was all talk and nothing else
on the 14th July, 2014 at 8:03pm
Fifa rankings say italy drops to 14th. No one can now argue that Switzerland, France, Colombia, Uruguay should not be above Italy since they all did better.

I think 14 is also very kind because the performance in last 2 matches was pretty bad. Thiago Motta should be in the worst eleven of tournament. And balotelli must be dropped and asked to get his act together and prove himself in behavior and goal scoring.
on the 14th July, 2014 at 7:58pm
We also see that this another player who struggled for a while and was written off. Then he finds a manager who believes in him and what happens? He suddenly reaches his potential. You see this time and time again. He may still struggle in the Prem but he's at least shown he can score goals in a decent league. Serie A cannot continue writing off young players and signing average players from other leagues. Surely we can learn from Germany's World Cup success. Maybe not.
on the 14th July, 2014 at 4:29pm
Doesn't this little snippet sum up all of the problems we have? Why would a club like Lecce which yo-yos from Serie A to B be looking to loan out a player like this for 4 seasons in a row? Surely you loan a player out for 1 season or maximum 2 but 4? Surely the idea is that with youth player you can get them accustomed to a club's culture and tactical approach. So loaning out a youth play indefinitely just delays their integration to the point that actually they cannot integrate.
on the 14th July, 2014 at 4:25pm

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